January 12, 2024 Israel-Hamas war

By Kathleen Magramo, Rob Picheta, Christian Edwards, Caitlin Danaher, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell, Andrew Raine and Chris Lau, CNN

Updated 4:06 a.m. ET, January 13, 2024
26 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:53 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

Chaos, conflict and famine: What Yemen has endured in the past decade

From CNN's Nadeen Ebrahim

Children look on as smoke billows above residential area of Sanaa, Yemen, following airstrikes targeting Houthi-held military positions on March 7, 2021.
Children look on as smoke billows above residential area of Sanaa, Yemen, following airstrikes targeting Houthi-held military positions on March 7, 2021. Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Yemen has been embroiled in turmoil since 2014, when Iranian-backed Houthi forces stormed the capital Sanaa and toppled the internationally recognized and Saudi-backed government, triggering a civil war. The conflict spiraled into a wider war in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition intervened in an attempt to beat back the Houthis.

Eight years later, the coalition has been unable to dislodge the Houthis, who remain in control of much of Yemen. A ceasefire was finally signed in 2022, but it lapsed just after six months. Warring parties have not, however, returned to full-scale conflict.

The war has sparked one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and pushing parts of the country into famine.

Seventeen million people are currently food insecure in Yemen, the World Food Programme says, warning that the humanitarian situation and lack of food and other crucial supplies have “the potential to bring millions of people closer to starvation and death.”

The conflict also wreaked havoc on the country’s infrastructure, exacerbated economic collapse and led to widespread displacement.

Today, more than 24 million people – over 80% of the population – are in need of humanitarian aid and protection, according to the UN. Some three million people have been displaced from their homes, hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs, and more than half of the population is now living in extreme poverty.

The conflict has killed up to round 377,000 people, according to a 2021 report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), more than half of whom died from indirect causes associated with the conflict, such as lack of food, water and healthcare.

So far, only 38.9% of Yemen’s humanitarian funding needs are being met, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says, with a funding gap of $2.7 billion still direly needed.

5:50 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

Analysis: How the Red Sea crisis could clobber the global economy

Analysis by CNN's Hanna Ziady

Attacks by Iran-backed militants in the Red Sea have effectively closed one of the world’s main trade routes to most container ships — vessels that carry everything from car parts to Crocs from one corner of the globe to another.

Six of the 10 biggest container shipping companies — namely Maersk, MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM, ZIM and ONE — are largely or completely avoiding the Red Sea because of the threat from the Houthi militants.

prolonged closure of the waterway, which connects with the Suez Canal, could snarl global supply chains and drive up the prices of manufactured goods at a crucial moment in the battle to defeat inflation. The Suez Canal accounts for 10-15% of world trade, which includes oil exports, and for 30% of global container shipping volumes.

As the crisis escalates, the ramifications for the global economy are growing.

Retailers are warning of shipment delays, and the cost of moving goods by sea is increasing. Oil prices are also ticking higher — Brent and US crude gained more than 2% Friday — on fears of a wider regional war that could disrupt supplies. Energy markets were already on edge after Iran seized a tanker in the Gulf of Oman Thursday.

Global trade fell 1.3% from November to December, Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy said Thursday, citing “consequences of the attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea.”

In a biannual report released Tuesday, the World Bank warned that the disruption to key shipping routes was “eroding slack in supply networks and increasing the likelihood of inflationary bottlenecks.”

7:24 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

Israel argues it is complying with international humanitarian law in attacks on Gaza

From CNN's Christian Edwards

Malcolm Shaw at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherlands, on January 12.
Malcolm Shaw at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherlands, on January 12. Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock

Israel told the UN’s top court it was taking actions to minimize civilian casualties during its aerial and ground assaults on Gaza and stressed its military was complying with international humanitarian law.

Article 51 of the UN charter, which governs the use of force, gives states the right of self-defense, provided the force they use is necessary and proportionate. Proportionality does not mean symmetry. It means the defending state cannot use more force than is needed to respond to a threat. Israel argued that its right to self-defense had been triggered by Hamas’ October 7 attack.

Once a conflict has begun, states are bound by “international humanitarian law” (IHL). Under IHL, all states must minimize civilian casualties. Intentionally directing attacks against civilians is always illegal, but an attack that kills civilians incidentally can be legal if it achieves a military purpose, provided the harm caused to civilians is not “excessive” in relation to the military advantage anticipated.

Malcolm Shaw argued Israel was responding “in a proportionate manner in each case,” pointing to evidence such as “forewarning civilians of a pending action by the unprecedented and extensive use of telephone calls, leafleting and so forth, coupled with the facilitation of humanitarian assistance.”

Shaw said this “demonstrates the precise opposite of genocidal intent.”

“South Africa, in seeking to discover the necessary intent, presents a distorted picture,” he said.
5:45 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

Decisions made by Israeli leadership "lack any genocidal intent," argues Israel

From CNN's Christian Edwards

Barrister Malcolm Shaw, center, speaks on behalf of the Israeli delegation during today's hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on January 12, in The Hague, Netherlands.
Barrister Malcolm Shaw, center, speaks on behalf of the Israeli delegation during today's hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on January 12, in The Hague, Netherlands. Michel Porro/Getty Images

Israel has responded to claims put by South Africa to the UN’s top court on Thursday, alleging Israel’s leadership was “intent on destroying the Palestinians in Gaza.”

Malcolm Shaw, a lawyer representing Israel, argued Israel’s leadership had not shown “genocidal intent” in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 attacks.

“Any careful review of the official and binding policy decisions made by the relevant authorities in Israel clearly evidence that such decisions lack any genocidal intent,” Shaw said.

South Africa on Thursday had presented evidence to the court of public pronouncements made by Israeli leaders it argued signaled their intent to commit genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Among the statements cited was an address made by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Israeli forces on October 28, ahead of the imminent launch of its ground offensive in Gaza.

“Remember what Amalek did to you,” Netanyahu said in his address, which South Africa told the court “refers to a Biblical command by God to Saul for the retaliatory destruction of an entire group of people known as the Amalekites.”

Shaw said some pronouncements made after October 7 were “rhetorical” and pointed instead to statements made by Israeli leaders asserting their country was complying with international law.

Among others, Shaw cited a later speech by Netanyahu on January 10.

“Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population. Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law,” Netanyahu said.

Shaw said such pronouncements “are indicative of the consistent and relentless commitment of Israeli relevant authorities to mitigate civilian harm and alleviate civilian suffering in Gaza.”

5:53 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

Crude oil prices rise Friday after attacks on Houthi targets

From CNN's Olesya Dmitracova

A ship transits the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea on January 10, in Ismailia, Egypt.
A ship transits the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea on January 10, in Ismailia, Egypt. Sayed Hassan/Getty Images

Crude oil prices were up more than 2.5% on Friday after the United States and United Kingdom launched joint strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen.

So far this year, Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, has risen 3.1%.

The global economy has been served a series of painful reminders of the importance of disruption in the Red Sea, through which 12% of global trade flows, including 30% of global container traffic.

The Houthis' attacks are forcing ships to take a far longer route around Africa and could cause insurance costs to rocket. Companies could pass on the increased cost of moving their goods to consumers, raising prices again at a time when governments around the world have struggled to tame post-pandemic inflation.

"There are concerns that the current chaos could last for many months, which will be a huge headache for companies around the world," Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, said on Friday.

"With ships heading from Asia to Europe being re-routed around the South of Africa, it is taking, on average, an extra 10 days, and costs per ship are going up by $1 million dollars, due to the delays and higher fuel bills," she said.

"The risk is that supply chains are tightening up around the globe, increasing the risk of bottle necks which could once again fuel inflation."

5:05 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

If genocidal acts have been committed, they were "perpetrated against Israel," Israel argues

From CNN's Christian Edwards and Caitlin Danaher

Israel shared multimedia, oral and written evidence of the atrocities committed by Hamas militants on October 7, during the hearing at the UN’s top court, arguing if genocidal acts had been committed, “they have been perpetrated against Israel.”

Israel said it felt “compelled to share with the court some fraction of [October 7's] horror,” but stressed it knew this did not justify violations of the law in reply.

“We do so not because these acts, however sadistic and systematic, release Israel of its obligations to uphold the law as it defends its citizens and territory – that is unquestionable,” said Tal Becker, representing Israel. “We do so because it is impossible to understand the armed conflict in Gaza without appreciating the nature of the threat that Israel is facing, and the brutality and the lawlessness of the armed force confronting it.”

Becker argued that the acts of Hamas on October 7 were genocidal in nature, and provided evidence of Hamas' leaders "proudly declared agenda of annihilation."

“The annihilationist language of Hamas’ charter is repeated regularly by its leaders, with the goal, in the words of one member of Hamas’ political bureau, of ‘the cleansing of Palestine of the filth of the Jews,’” Becker said.

If there have been acts that may be characterized as genocidal, then they have been perpetrated against Israel,” he said.

The court was shown a video of an interview shortly after October 7, in which Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas leader, told a Lebanese TV channel: “We will do this again and again.” He said the attack was “just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

Becker argued the provisional measures requested by South Africa for the court to order Israel to suspend its military operations would deny Israel its ability  to “meet its obligations to the defense of its citizens, to the hostages, and to over 110,000 internally displaced Israelis unable to safely return to their homes.

Israel has the "inherent right" to take all legitimate measures to defend its citizens, he said.

5:41 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

Israel slams ICJ case as a "libel" aiming to "deny Israel the right to defend itself"

From CNN's Christian Edwards

People stand inside the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as judges hear a request for emergency measures to order Israel to stop its military actions in Gaza, in The Hague, Netherlands, on January 12.
People stand inside the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as judges hear a request for emergency measures to order Israel to stop its military actions in Gaza, in The Hague, Netherlands, on January 12. Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

Some more now from the International Court of Justice, where Israel described the charge of genocide levelled against it by South Africa as a "libel."

“It is respectfully submitted that the application and request should be dismissed for what they are: a libel designed to deny Israel the right to defend itself according to the law from the unprecedented terrorist onslaught it continues to face and to free the 136 hostages Hamas still holds," said Tal Becker, one of the lawyers representing Israel.

Becker was echoing claims made by Israel ahead of the hearing at The Hague.

Israeli officials called the accusation of genocide a "blood libel" by South Africa, a thinly veiled accusation of antisemitism.

"What Israel seeks by operating in Gaza, is not to destroy a people, but to protect a people, its people, who are under attack on multiple fronts,” Becker said, adding that Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists not the civilian population.

He reaffirmed comments made by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel does not seek to "permanently occupy Gaza or to displace its civilian population."

4:36 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

France says Houthis "bear the extremely serious responsibility" for the escalation in the Red Sea

From CNN's Dalal Mawad in Paris

France said on Friday that the Houthis “bear the extremely serious responsibility” for the escalation in the Red Sea.

“France renews its condemnation of the attacks carried out by the Houthis in the Red Sea against commercial vessels which violate navigation rights and freedoms and demands that the Houthis put an end to them immediately,” read a statement issued by France's foreign ministry

On Thursday, Rear-Admiral Emmanuel Slaars, joint commander of French forces in the Red Sea region, told journalists in Paris that French naval forces were patrolling the waters where the Houthis operated “to prevent further attacks,” as well as “escorting French ships or French-interest ships all along their crossing.” 

Slaars said the French navy forces remain “under national command” and were “not subordinated" to the United States; however, they are cooperating and sharing intelligence with Washington.

4:32 a.m. ET, January 12, 2024

South Africa presented "profoundly distorted factual and legal picture," argues Israel

From CNN's Christian Edwards

Legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry Tal Becker, left, and British jurist Malcolm Shaw sit inside the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as judges hear a request for emergency measures to order Israel to stop its military actions in Gaza, in The Hague, Netherlands January 12, 2024. REUTERS/
Legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry Tal Becker, left, and British jurist Malcolm Shaw sit inside the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as judges hear a request for emergency measures to order Israel to stop its military actions in Gaza, in The Hague, Netherlands January 12, 2024. REUTERS/ Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

Israel said South Africa presented to the UN's top court a "profoundly distorted factual and legal picture," as the second and final day of the hearing on Israel's genocide case began.

"The entirety of its case hinges on a deliberately curated, decontextualized and manipulative description of the reality of current hostilities," said Tal Becker, one of the lawyers representing Israel, in his opening remarks at the International Court of Justice on Friday.

Becker said Israel was "singularly aware" of why the genocide convention was adopted.

"Seared in our collective memory is the systematic murder of six million Jews, as part of a premeditated and heinous program for their total annihilation," he said.

Becker argued that the convention should not have been invoked in this case.

"The genocide convention was not designed to address the brutal impact of intensive hostilities on the civilian population," he argued. Instead, it was designed "to address a malevolent crime of the most exceptional severity."

He criticized South Africa for "weaponizing" the term "genocide" against Israel, adding "we live in a time when words are cheap."

The attempt to weaponize the term 'genocide' against Israel in the present context does more than tell the court a grossly distorted story, and it does more than empty the word of its unique force and special meaning. It subverts the object and purpose of the convention itself, with ramifications for all states seeking to defend themselves against those who demonstrate total disdain for life and for the law," he said.

On Thursday, South Africa's lawyers said that Israel's leaders were “intent on destroying the Palestinians in Gaza” and called on the court to order a halt to the military campaign in the enclave.